I’ve experienced a few Pride events in America, but had no idea what to expect from my first experience celebrating Gay Pride in Jamaica. I traveled to Jamaica with my girlfriend and was pleasantly surprised when a bus adorned with the Pride flag picked us up to take us to the celebration.
We arrived waaaay too early for a Jamaican event, but had the advantage of watching as people, predominantly men, arrived—many quickly shedding their men’s clothing and transforming into fierce, attractive women.
I watched in delight and amazement as they danced freely—their faces lit with unbridled pleasure. Bodies bent, heads looking back to watch their own bouncing booties—an informal circle formed for anyone who wanted to take center stage and display their talents. Heads on the ground, legs in the air, hands voguing, bodies slamming … many were entranced. We celebrated on the beach—a place that would usually be forbidden for anyone like us to be our true selves in Jamaica. I waded into the ocean with my girlfriend passing men, chocolate skins—fit bodies wrapped in warm embraces.
We danced, then left the beach to boldly brave the city … and returned to dance in the dark. The few “women” slowly but surely formed our own circle, we connected in conversation. I had been one of the only masculine women for most the day hearing from many “men”— “you a di only maaaaaan.” I smiled with pride—my girlfriend giggled and rolled her eyes—I always think I’m more masculine than I actually am, and here these men were validating me … lol. More women like me joined in and we connected. By the end of the evening we were all one. While I indulged in the scene and sipped wine, a towering transwoman found herself below my 5’ 4” stature for a wine. We exited with several men sharing their escapades, desires and fears.
Throughout the day there were references to the reality of homophobia; they were chilling, some shocking, all saddening. But on this day, Jamaica became Neverland—that imaginary fantasy place where we could all be our true authentic selves on the shores of our sweet Jamaica.